Toyota Gazoo Racing is exploring ways to unshackle its double-Le Mans winning TS050 HYBRID LMP1 car, which is due to be retired at the end of the current FIA World Endurance Championship season, and break its own Le Mans lap record from 2017.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Director and TMG Vice President Rob Leupen told RACER that there is a desire from Toyota to see what the current iteration of the TS050 can achieve without the success handicap restrictions imposed on it during the current FIA WEC season.
“The record-breaking 3m14.793s from Kamui (Kobayashi, at Le Mans), it was a great moment, I will never forget this,” he reflected. “I can say now I had in my mind that we could get below 3m15s. I even told this to a journalist, who said: ‘you’re crazy’. Normally you like to push the limits; what he did was sensational.
“The current regulations don’t allow us to show what really is possible,” because the performance of our car is really held back due to the EoT (Equivalence of Technology) we have today. The car has a new aero package, so it was it made it even quicker, but we agreed we need to have racing (with the privateers).
“So what I would like to see happening is, maybe we can find an occasion where we can unleash the car, and give it the full power, and reach the full performance envelope it has complete another Le Mans quick lap. That would be something I really would like to see, as we are not allowed to let it go.
“I think there is much more to come. And we know that the car can do much more, but because of regulations it is not yet not possible to showcase this.”
After pulling out of LMP1, Porsche broke lap records at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps with an Evo-spec 919 ‘Tribute’. Leupen said Toyota would consider something like this as part of the TS050 HYBRID’s swansong.
“We are thinking very hard about doing this,” he said when asked if Toyota would try to break lap records with the TS050 like Porsche did with its 919. “But at the present moment, it’s only thinking. Yes, I would like to see our car’s full potential with good drivers in Le Mans. Imagine Kamui doing another lap attack there with a completely unleashed TS050? 3m10s?”
In order to break the Le Mans lap record again, Toyota would need to find a way to take to the full track with an unrestricted TS050 HYBRID. Each year there are only a few opportunities to do this, as the full Circuit de la Sarthe is only in operation for select events. In 2020 Toyota could do this at the Le Mans Test Day, during Le Mans race week or at the Le Mans Classic.